By Obaidul Ghani, back from Barisal
DHAKA,Oct 2, 2017 (|BSS) - Emergency Night Shelter (ENS), popularly known as a rehabilitation hub for street children, is to bring a change in the lives of many poor street children in Barisal region with an attempt to return those orphans to their families as a total of 185 children so far had been got back to their families in last two years through the center.
According to an official statistics, some 9,771 children are still living on the streets in the district town while the UNICEF predicts that the projected number of such vulnerable children would be 16,15,330 in major urban areas across the country by 2024.
The ENS, a UNICEF funded programme and implemented by the Department of Social Services under a 'Child Sensitive Social Protection in Bangladesh' (CSPB) project since 2008, is being provided food and shelter to these under privileged street children, who are often isolated and missing from their families, forced to live on the street at the crowded places like markets, launch, bus and railway stations.
"I feel good as I have got an opportunity to stay here at night and getting food for three times in a day at free of cost ....even I am trying to seek an employment during the day," said Sumon, a 15-year old boy, hailed from Langalkot in Comilla and had been living here since 2012.
Before coming to this place, I had been passing night at the launch station ....I collected plastic water bottles and earned Taka 30, in a day, added Sumon who, has no mother and had imprisonment for six months in Dubai for working as a 'Camel-Jokey' in Dubai when he was only six years old.
"I have been living here since 2008....I want to continue my study," said another 13-year old boy, Mamun who had been missing from Postogola in Dhaka at the age of 3 year. He is now reading in class one at the government primary school at Barisal.
About the objective of the ENS, Muminun Nessa, Child Protection Officer of the UNICEF in Barisal Division, told BSS "the emergency night shelter is working as a media to link these street children with their families as they can lead normal life. A total of 185 street children ----145 in 2016 and other 40 in 2017 had returned to their families".
With the financial support from the UNICEF, the Social Service Department under the Ministry of Social Welfare is implementing the programme under the CSPB project since January 2012 and scheduled to end by December 2016, said Gazi Mohammad Nurul Kabir, Director-General (DG)of the Department of Social Services (DSS).
But now the government has extended the period of the project for one more year, the DG added.
Under the project,the DSS along with its partner organization Drop In Center (DIC), four Emergency Night Shelter (ENS), 20 Child Friendly Space (CFS) and five Open Air School (OAS) are being operated in the divisional cities of Dhaka, Chittagong and Barisal, said the DG.
A total of 4,671 street children got necessary services under the project during the tenure.
Earlier, the Protection of Children at Risk (PCAR) project began in April 2007. The project aims to protect street children and children without parental care from abuse, exploitation and violence.
Through the PCAR project UNICEF and its partner organisations have provided services to around 5000 street children. This project is funded by the UNICEF National Committees of Germany, Italy, Sweden and United States and the Governments of Denmark and United Arab Emirates.